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Torah Portion

Home > Religion > Torah Portion > Ha'azinu

Torah Talk for educators and parents

"Understanding the Teachings of Our Parents"
Shabbat Shuva, October 7, 2000 - 8 Tishrei 5761

Do your parents' ideas seem old-fashioned?
Not in touch with today?
Maybe they aren't, but we can still learn a lot
from their core values,
just as we can from the Torah.
Something to think about in Haazinu. presents a Torah portion write-up written for parents and teachers from the author of "The Really Fun Family Haggadah."

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In Haazinu (translation: "Pay Heed"), Moses stands with the Israelites and presents his song of praise for God. During this song, Moses actually speaks of the Israelites as children, with God as their father. He reminds them of how God brought them through slavery in Egypt, tough times in the desert, gave them the Torah, and brought them to the Promised Land. After the song, he urges the Israelites to "observe to do all of the words of this law (the Torah). For it is no vain (empty) thing; because it is your life..."

Moses knows he is near the end of his life. He also knows that while he will soon die, the Torah would live as long as the children of Israel carried out its teachings. But at this point, despite all that God has done for the Israelites, the children of Israel still don't fully appreciate God and the teachings of the Torah. Perhaps it was still too early in our history to understand.

And so it is with modern day parents and children. When we are in our early years, many of us don't fully understand the teachings of our parents. But as we grow older and experience more, the core values of our parents begin to ring true.

The same is true with the Torah. The ways seem old, the language clumsy and simple. It doesn't seem relevant to today's life. But if we can dig beyond the surface of the words, we can begin to see what is called "the many faces" of the Torah. What may seem simple on one face, is deep with endless interpretations on many faces. And the teachings are as meaningful today as ever.

On this Shabbat, let's all take a bit of extra time to try and understand the teachings of our parents, and think deeply about how they can apply to our lives. Let's also, as the children of Israel, especially as we begin a New Year, try harder to understand and observe the teachings of our Torah. It's not easy to understand and it's not always easy to observe, but as a famous rabbi once said, "When I pray, I speak to God. When I read Torah, God speaks to me." That's good enough for me. Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah.

Try these discussion starters at the Shabbat table or at school:
Do your parent's teachings seem old-fashioned? Name one and see how it can apply to your life.
Next, does the Torah's teachings seem old-fashioned? How can you apply one to your life?

Larry Stein is the author of The Really Fun Family Haggadah, which can be ordered at Email Larry at

Copyright ©, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission.

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